LAS VEGAS – Grant Dawson is off to a near flawless start in his UFC career, but his one bump in the road was still eating at him heading into UFC on ESPN 35.
This past October, Dawson was up two rounds on all three scorecards against Ricky Glenn in the UFC Fight Night 196 co-main event. But in the third, Glenn turned the tide. A dominant last five minutes got him a 10-8 round from two of the judges, and that left Dawson shaking his head with a majority draw.
The result, while not a loss, still was looked at by Dawson as a setback after a 5-0 UFC start. And after years of training at Glory MMA & Fitness in Missouri with head coach James Krause, Dawson made the decision to change camps.
He and his fiancee uprooted their Midwest lives for American Top Team in South Florida. The risk was rewarded when Dawson (18-1-1 MMA, 6-1-1 UFC) submitted Jared Gordon (18-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC) in the third round Saturday in Las Vegas.
“There was a lot of pressure going into this fight with the camp change,” Dawson said at his post-fight news conference. “I changed everything except my walkout song – literally everything except my walkout song. I’m in a new home. I had just bought a house back in Missouri – a beautiful house that I wanted to be in for five or six years, and I was in it for five or six months, and we moved. We got a new place (in Florida), and it’s small, it’s cozy. There were a lot of sacrifices that went into this move. It all paid off tonight.”
The walkout song that remained, and Dawson said might always remain, is “Hellfire” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” But rather than walk out to the Disney version of the song, he comes out to Jonathan Young’s cover of it – a decidedly less Disney-riffic metalfied version.
Like his fight against Glenn, Dawson had little issue with Gordon in the first 10 minutes. But in the third, he brought a little hellfire like his walkout music when he took Gordon’s back for a rear-naked choke.
Dawson said that third-round finish was a perfect end to the story, given how his third-round against Glenn this past fall is what led to a draw instead of a win.
“I’m glad that (the finish) came in the third round. I know that sounds stupid, but I’m very glad it came in the third round,” Dawson said. “I proved to these guys that last fight … that last round of that last fight, that’s never going to happen again. I can fight hard for 15 or 25 minutes, whatever it need be.”
Dawson said he wants to fight one more time in 2022 ahead of a wedding planned for November with unbeaten atomweight fighter Elle Wagman. At 6-0-1 in the UFC and unbeaten in three fights at lightweight, Dawson likely can expect a ranked opponent his next time out.